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Campaigning in Past Tense: How Candidate Background Alters Issue Agendas
Unformatted Document Text:  1997), local issue priorities (Sulkin & Evans 2006), and issues that cross-pressure members of the opposing party (Hillygus & Shields 2006). Other studies have examined whether or not campaigns converge to discuss the same issues (Kaplan, Park, & Ridout 2006; Sigelman & Buell 2004; Simon 2002). A large number of studies have addressed the question of whether John Petrocik’s theory of issue ownership affects the issues highlighted by political campaigns Brasher 2003; Budge & Farlie 1983; Damore 2004, 2005; Kahn & Kenney 1999; Ridout, Kaplan, & Park 2006; Sides 2006; Sigelman & Buell 2004; Spiliotes & Vavreck 2002; Sulkin & Evans 2006). These studies have advanced our understanding of campaign issue agendas. Yet, none of these works, unfortunately, address the influence that the background of the candidate has on the selection of issues or campaign themes. 14 The notion of campaign behavior in these studies is limited by failing to include a candidate’s reputation as a variable. Political consultants study a candidate’s biography, accomplishments, and record with great care in order to determine the candidate’s reputation. Then, consultants use this reputation to help craft an issue agenda for their campaign. Measures of campaign issue agendas that do not include measures of the candidate’s reputation are incomplete. In general, these models of issue agendas focus on national and partisan rationales. The results in this paper join with others (Sellers 1998; Sides 2006; Sulkin & Evans 2006) in identifying the characteristics of the candidate herself as quite prominent in determining the issues on which a campaign will focus. The wide diversity of campaign issue agendas, and their independence from other corroborating factors, may be explained in part by the wide variety of individuals from diverse backgrounds who run for Congress (Spiliotes & Vavreck 2002; Sulkin & Evans 2006). 14 The notable exception here, as mentioned above, is Sides (2006). 16

Authors: Arbour, Brian.
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1997), local issue priorities (Sulkin & Evans 2006), and issues that cross-pressure members of
the opposing party (Hillygus & Shields 2006). Other studies have examined whether or not
campaigns converge to discuss the same issues (Kaplan, Park, & Ridout 2006; Sigelman & Buell
2004; Simon 2002). A large number of studies have addressed the question of whether John
Petrocik’s theory of issue ownership affects the issues highlighted by political campaigns
Brasher 2003; Budge & Farlie 1983; Damore 2004, 2005; Kahn & Kenney 1999; Ridout,
Kaplan, & Park 2006; Sides 2006; Sigelman & Buell 2004; Spiliotes & Vavreck 2002; Sulkin &
Evans 2006).
These studies have advanced our understanding of campaign issue agendas. Yet, none of
these works, unfortunately, address the influence that the background of the candidate has on the
selection of issues or campaign themes.
The notion of campaign behavior in these studies is
limited by failing to include a candidate’s reputation as a variable. Political consultants study a
candidate’s biography, accomplishments, and record with great care in order to determine the
candidate’s reputation. Then, consultants use this reputation to help craft an issue agenda for
their campaign.
Measures of campaign issue agendas that do not include measures of the candidate’s
reputation are incomplete. In general, these models of issue agendas focus on national and
partisan rationales. The results in this paper join with others (Sellers 1998; Sides 2006; Sulkin &
Evans 2006) in identifying the characteristics of the candidate herself as quite prominent in
determining the issues on which a campaign will focus. The wide diversity of campaign issue
agendas, and their independence from other corroborating factors, may be explained in part by
the wide variety of individuals from diverse backgrounds who run for Congress (Spiliotes &
Vavreck 2002; Sulkin & Evans 2006).
14
The notable exception here, as mentioned above, is Sides (2006).
16


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